It may not be at the top of people’s lists, but the semifinals for the NCAA Lacrosse National Championship get underway on Saturday, with four high-profile programs still alive. There is ample opportunity to find some angles, and last Saturday both wagers in this article won for a nice 2-0 weekend. Let’s dive into both games and see what to put on the betting card.
Best NCAA Lacrosse Odds & Bets: Semifinal Picks
NCAA Lacrosse Semifinal Odds
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Penn State vs. Duke | Saturday 12 p.m. EST
The first game is the most lopsided one, with Penn State looking to pull a major upset against Duke. The money on this game is Duke -450, who is laying four goals, which shows its expected dominance in this one.
Duke is 15-2 on the year, having beaten fellow semifinalist Virginia twice and sporting the best record in the country. Last week it got past Michigan 15-8 in a game that lacked much drama. Duke’s offense starts with attackman Brennan O’Neill, who has a case for being the best player in the country. In addition to the elite firepower on offense, Duke has a fifth-year senior in goal, experience at the faceoff dot and plenty of other scoring weapons. It is a tall task to slow them down, but Penn State has some weapons of its own.
This is uncharted territory for Penn State as it looks to continue to prove the doubters wrong. This 11-4 squad got past Army 10-9 in the quarterfinals, and that is the style that it needs to replicate here. It is not to say it cannot put up goals in bunches, but going toe to toe with Duke’s attack is a recipe for disaster. The big questions are what defensively Penn State can do, and how long it can slow tempo if it happens to fall behind. Penn State will probably pack it in and limit transition, which should slow the game down as much as possible. The longer it can do that the better it will be, and stopping O’Neill has to be the top priority in this spot.
Duke is the better team, but Penn State will have a gameplan to cause some headaches for the Blue Devils offense. Long possessions, limit penalties and shrinking the game all lean not towards a side but rather a total. Take under 25.5 here at -110 in a game where Penn State will do enough to keep it respectable.
Best NCAA Lacrosse Bet: Under 25.5 (-110, DraftKings)
Notre Dame vs. Virginia | Saturday 2:30 p.m. EST
The second game of the doubleheader is the one most people are focused on, with Virginia and Notre Dame linking up again. These teams are familiar with each other, as Virginia beat the Irish 15-10 and 12-8 during the regular season. Both teams have a legitimate Player of the Year candidate, and it is no surprise this spread is nearly a pick-’em; Virginia is just a slight 1.5-goal favorite.
The Cavaliers are 13-3 and led by Connor Shellenberger, who is a do-it-all attackman. His numbers for the year do not jump off the page, but injuries and not needing to do a ton contributed to that. Last week in a quarterfinal game against Georgetown, he had six goals and four assists. Slowing him down is going to be the key to Notre Dame’s success, as he makes this Virginia offense go. One positive is Notre Dame has some experience against him given the regular-season meetings, even if both ended in defeats. Virginia hung another 17 goals in its quarterfinal matchup, and its ability to outscore opponents is what Notre Dame must worry about.
Notre Dame handled Johns Hopkins last week 12-9 and has its own alpha on the attack in Pat Kavanagh. He has 50 assists on the year and, like Shellenberger, is the key to all the offensive success that Notre Dame has. In addition, Notre Dame is an elite man-up unit, so Virginia must avoid taking penalties. At the faceoff dot, Notre Dame has an uphill battle and will have to find ways to keep possessions respectable if Virginia wins the majority of draws.
Notre Dame is a tough team to break down, as it only has two losses on the year, but both are to Virginia. The Kavanagh brothers are incredibly difficult to stop, but so far Virginia has found ways to limit them while maintaining its offensive firepower. It is hard to beat a team this good three times, but Virginia should do just that. Shellenberger will be the best player on the field, Virginia will limit the man up opportunities, and it will advance to another national championship game.
Best NCAA Lacrosse Bet: Virginia Moneyline (-130, DraftKings)